Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heartburn

I am tied to my bed. Literally. I have a six-foot tether that lets me reach the toilet but not the main door of this room. This morning I washed my hair with a kind of haircap that washes, conditions and rinses your hair all in one! It's still wet now, we'll see how good a job it does when it's dry. Things are quiet now, breakfast is over, there are no visitors and lunch has not yet arrived. Meals are the big events of my life right now.

On Monday I had a busy day: I got email from my brother to say that our Aunt Ruthe had died on Sunday morning. It was also my son Sam's 33rd birthday. And I was getting together with WiseWebWoman for another blogger's lunch at a great little Indian restaurant on Bloor near Bathurst. The first major snow storm of the season was just starting (I gather it was a bit of a dud, but I can't see outdoors so I have to take other people's word for it).

I had my regular writing workshop in the early evening, and since it is close by I usually walk to and from there. I got home around 8pm and my chest was achy. This has been going on for awhile, and was particularly bad over the weekend, somehow on Monday night it just seemed like enough was enough. I just didn't know what to do about it. I really hate the idea of going to Emergency, it just seems like such a waste of time and on a snowstormy night I'd far rather stay home and tough it out. But I was wondering if maybe this might not be the most sensible thing to do.

My compromise was to call 911 and ask their opinion.

Kind of dumb in retrospect, what do I think their opinion is going to be? Man, they don't mess around! They didn't want any details, just the address. And minutes later, siren blaring and lights flashing, there was a big old firetruck sitting in front of our house blocking traffic in both directions. Very discreet.

Four burly firemen crowded into our tiny entrance hallway, they wouldn't let me move or try to pack or anything. Just step this way ma'am, into the ambulance.

So much for asking questions.

I got strapped into a stretcher in the back of the ambulance, something intravenous hooked up to my left hand, and we were off to St. Joe's. A few moments later they had me at Emergency and were negotiating a bed for me. I was unloaded onto a bed in a curtained off area of the hospital basement, surrounded by other curtained off beds and the various sounds of people in not great shape coming from behind those curtains.

Very quickly I was hooked up to a machine that recorded my heart beat and took my blood pressure automatically every hour. Blood was taken. Someone came by with a portable X-ray machine and aimed it at me for a chest X-ray; he came by half an hour later to do it again, saying that he had cut off the bottom of my lungs with the previous X-ray.

Someone identifying himself as a doctor asked some questions and left, someone else also identifying himself as a doctor said they were keeping me overnight and then transferring me to St. Mike's the next day for an angiogram.

Can I go to my Aunt Ruthe's funeral on Wednesday? He gapes at me. Are you nuts?

Amazingly, I think I actually did manage to sleep for a few moments during all this, but not much more than that.

Around 2am I was wheeled up to the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) where Leona tucked me into a little bed in a little room with real walls. She said, You're new at this aren't you? I can tell by the way you're looking around, your eyes are just all over the place! I said I hadn't been in a hospital overnight since my son Sam was born, 33 years ago. She nodded and said, You've had a good long run. Meaning I suspect, it's over now.

Today is the funeral. I really wish I could be there. Ironically, I was unhappy that it was going to be on a Wednesday, my Mimico Adult Ed day. But all that's irrelevant now. The doctor (another one) came by yesterday to talk to me. So far I have talked to I don't know how many doctors, and none of them mine. I don't think mine even knows I am here.

This latest one said she was going to run a stress test on me, then she was gone. I found out later from Milada my nurse that the test was scheduled three days away and I was expected to stay in bed until then. I asked her why the stress test, why not the angiogram, and she very carefully avoided expressing an opinion, only that one, the angiogram, is more specific and more informative than the other. But also more invasive.

I talked to my sister-in-law later in the day and she said that in the same situation my brother her husband had been offered a choice and he had chosen the angiogram. In retrospect he's glad he did that. Maybe this doctor chose the stress test because they don't do angiograms at St Joe's, I'd have to be moved to St Mike's for that. I asked Gretel where St Mike's is, she said it was also close by and closer to where Isaac works.

The Saints preserve us!

The doctor just came by and I asked her why she wanted the stress test and not the angiogram. She says my situation is a bit unusual, she thinks it may not be heart pain at all. I must admit I am wondering that myself, but the exhaustion and fatigue I feel makes me lean more toward heart issues than something else.

Wouldn't it be funny if the firetruck came with the siren blaring and all lights blazing for a case of heartburn?

Isaac brought me some knitting and books and my netbook to entertain myself. He also put a couple of videos on my netbook. Tristan brought me a chocolate bar.

Yesterday they admitted an older man to the CCU at the other end of the unit. In the evening a whole bunch of young people, high schoolers, came to visit. There were so many of them that they couldn't fit into the room, they overflowed into the hallway. I wondered if that person was their teacher. Anyway, those kids were worried and concerned, they seemed relieved that their patient was able to talk to them and even to joke with them.

You'll never lose your sense of humour, one of them said. I didn't hear the reply, but then the kid said, I'll never lose mine either.

Isaac and Tristan arrived a little later, Tristan was fascinated by the monitor showing heart rate and blood pressure above my bed. There is one line that doesn't appear to move, Tristan said it must not be working, and I said, No, watch. Then I waved my arm around and that flat line jumped all over the place. Maybe it measures my arm rate?

This is not what I had planned for this week, but what can you do.

4 comments:

Barbara Anne said...

Oh!!!!!!!! Say it's not so! The intrepid Annie by the wayside and stuck in a hospital bed. Bummer to the max!

I'm glad you're in touch with those of us who follow you here and there. I'd much rather you be hale and hearty so I can follow you elsewhere. Hospitals are no fun.

Be well, my friend! Get well hugs!!

Wisewebwoman said...

Good to see you posting, Annie and thanks for your updating emails.
More of your observations on hospital life are upcoming?
You have a very keen ear and eye.
XO and all good healing thoughts.
WWW

Annie said...

Ah well Barbara, 33 years was indeed a good run, sooner or later they getcha!

Yes WWW, more to come, I am having some fun here. Tomorrow is going to be a big party here, everyone ambulatory (maybe we can arrange wheelchairs and beds for the non-ambulatory) will be in the lounge for the Canada-USA hockey game, and my son has been instructed to bring popcorn. So keep tuned to this station!

Duchess said...

Crumbs... Good luck! It sounds like they are looking after you, anyway.